Reductionism (nothing but-ism)

This issue is nothing but a lack of morals.

Or rather, it is nothing but a failure in understanding the physical world.

Or is it nothing but a metaphysical error?

I think the problem is nothing but the fact that modernism is full of “nothing but-isms.” When all you have is a hammer, every problem becomes a nail.  This is the sad approach taken by many in contemporary (we can call it “modern”) times.

The mind is nothing but a very advanced machine.  Carl Sagan is, according to himself, “nothing but a collection of atoms bearing the name ‘Carl Sagan.’” And modernist reductionism is nothing but a sad lack of a big picture perspective on reality. This last statement is a reductionist statement, but this one I believe is fairly accurate.

But heresies and errors seem to show up in pairs.  Thus, for example, we have idealism and empiricism, each taking one piece of the truth and emphasizing it until they eliminate another portion of reality from their worldview. But as always, heresies are rarely new (I believe this ties in with the phrase of “those who neglect to know the past are doomed to repeat it”), and extreme realism and nominalism seem to be the precursors to these errors respectively.

The “nothing but” school reduces everything to the one part of reality it [thinks it] understands. Reductionism simply means that “all is reduced to my specialty;” hardly a humble approach.  We must remember that one of the primary dispositions for gaining a true understanding of anything is humility.  Reductionist theories are, knowingly or not, most arrogant instead.  Pythagoras knew numbers well, so obviously, the universe was MADE of numbers.

Let’s take a simple scientific example, and see if we can “explode” Carl Sagan’s thought.  Many say that things are nothing but the sum of their physical parts.  But oxygen and hydrogen, for example, are two highly flammable things.  Let’s put them together, and try to light this “sum” on fire.  I think we will already have to water down the “nothing but” theory in simple science.

David Hume, seeing that an event “B” followed event “A” came to the conclusion that, in our experience, we keep seeing the unrelated “B” follow “A” and we confusedly link the two as cause and effect.  This stems from his empiricism, where all is reduced to the material, where we cannot “see” cause and effect. But only that “B” follows “A” with an “odd regularity.”

When a mind such as Kant’s reflects on this, this skepticism, combined with a Cartesian idealism, leads to a loss of trust in the mind to do metaphysical reasoning, and further, to the strangest attempt to save morality I can think of.  In fact, the only thing stranger that Kant’s moral theory is that most the world seems to, for the most part, follow it. Or rather, people follow an eclectic and confused (and thus even less coherent) form of this philosophy.

Now, there seems to be an objective truth with no object.  A truth that is reduced to “I feel this is ok, therefore it is” or its opposite.  We become our own gods because of Kant.  If I can say “I would have done the same in his shoes,” then its ok. So, If I would have gotten an abortion in that case, then its ok for someone else to do likewise.

Who cares how I decided that it was ok for me to do such?  Morality is nothing but “what I would have others do to me” and so, I am the final arbiter in matters moral.  Step aside, God.  I am now in charge.


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